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Hey Kerri P » Sinee


June 4th, 2014

Smiling Sidney

This is my little cousin Sidney, or Sinee as I like to call her thanks to her younger sister Camryn never having the time to pronounce that “D”, especially when Sidney did something to annoy her.

Sid and Core

This is Sidney and her dad Corey, that would be my cousin Corey. Corey and I were born to two sisters, we were in the same class from Kindergarten through 12th grade and grew up living in each others backyards. “Carrot Stick” and “Apple Core” as one of our other cousins nicknamed us many moons ago. I love Core, he’s a favorite of mine. Corey had the good sense to marry Stacy. You’ve all read about Stacy before, you know, “The Cupcake Queen”, the reason you’ve been reading about cupcake topper after cupcake topper recently. Together they have two beautiful daughters and one of them hit a milestone a few weeks ago… graduation.

If you remember, Stacy hired me about a year ago to make centerpieces for Sidney’s Junior Prom. It was at that same time that she booked me for Sidney’s graduation party. Do the math… that’s a year in advance. Stac knows me well. One would I assume I had everything done a month ahead of time right? Ahh, dear readers, you know me better than that.

Stac was planning on a Dessert Bar, after all she is the queen of desserts, and one of the first things she requested was some marquee letters, like the ones I made for prom. She wanted to spell out the word “Sweets” to hang above her Dessert Bar. Back in January I met up with Corey and Stac at the venue they were renting for the party so we could take some measurements and figure out how to hang the letters. Because of the pendant lights hanging above the bar we wouldn’t be able to hang the letters so we decided to make a shelf that the letters could sit on and her sweet creations could sit under.

She also wanted the letters to light up. If you remember, my prom letters were made of foamcore and posterboard and didn’t actually light up. She was hoping for something a bit more durable and since she would be able to use them again for her business we decided to make them out of wood. I started discussions with my Design Assistant. He had made a marquee letter out of wood once before but it was all straight lines and angles, he was very concerned about those curves in the letter “S”, and he’d have to make two of those. I did some research into bendable plywood and we landed on 1/8 inch birch plywood.

S close up

I made him some letter templates that were 14 inches high and approximately 12 inches wide, and also included where to position the lights. Letters 12 inches wide meant the shelf would have to be around 8 feet long, yikes, that was almost the same length as the bar. I was in the workshop one day inspecting the letters and suggested we try lining them up all wonky to safe space …

Sweets in the workshop

whew… that cut about a foot off the length of the shelf. So while the old man continued to fret about those curvy “S’s” I set about scouring antique stores. I was on the hunt for milkglass for seven table centerpieces. What is milkglass you may ask? Well this is milkglass…

milkglass and books

you know, the stuff I thought was so lame that I convinced my mom to sell her pieces at a garage sale. Drat that garage sale, it still haunts me today. My discoveries may not have been “authentic” milkglass but they would do for my purposes. This one was my favorite…

milkglass goblet

it looks like a happy little smiling clown face, and no, not a creepy, little smiling clown face.

While hitting the antique stores I had my color swatches in hand. Stac had given me about five different paint chip cards that matched her chosen colors and using those cards I hunted down several stacks of old hardcover books matching those shades. More on those to come.

“The Great Milkglass Hunt” was undertaken due to my partially formed idea for centerpieces. My ideas tend to shift and change along the way and this one was partly inspired by something I spotted on Pinterest, and partly by Sidney’s very cool, modern style graduation invitations that looked like this on the front …

Grad Invite front

and this on the back (gorgeous isn’t she?).

Grad invite back

The photos in the circles inspired me to make some, essentially super-sized, cupcake toppers for the centerpieces. I started out by drawing a “swirly-word” version of Sidney’s name along with a few other graduation themed sayings.

Swirly Sidney

I took photos of the sayings, downloaded them to my computer and traced the letters in Illustrator. Tracing my own handwriting on my computer is always tedious but ends up saving time in the end. I had acquired a flashdrive full of photos of Sidney and started placing them in several different sized circles and adding in the “swirly words” that I had just created.

Desk of Sidney Circles 2

I then made colored circles with the “swirly words” on them to glue to the back of the photo circles, or the front, depending on how you look at it. After 110 circles it was time to start printing. Soon my desk looked like this …

Desk of Sidney Circles

and it was time to get out my new circle cutting system and get to cutting. I hot glued all those circles back to back with wooden bamboo skewers sandwiched between them.

Sidney Circles in a vase

I planned to stick the skewers into floral foam inside my milkglass pieces and then ended up using my stash of green grass from a previous project to cover up the foam. It continued to be a work in progress…

Pre Centerpiece front

Pre Centerpiece back

and then I decided it needed a little sparkle. I started cutting 2 1/2 inch circles out of foamboard and stuck them atop some more wooden skewers. I then got out the glitter…

Glitter circles

hack, hack, cough, cough, yet another case of glitter lung. The perils of crafting.

Glitter circles 2

On to the books. While purusing Pinterest I found a tutorial on how to turn old books into letters. I set off on yet another search for Readers Digest Condensed Books, you know, the ones with the colorful, patterned hardcovers. Again, the same kind I convinced my father to sell on my one and only garage sale. I say again, curse that garage sale!! I was going to make a bunch of “S’s” for Sidney that I would add to the centerpieces. I described my plan for this new project to my Design Assistant. He was unconvinced that it would work. He believed the book would fall apart because we would cut apart too much of the spine. I finally had to show him the tutorial on my phone, that helped a little bit. One Saturday I showed up at his workshop with a pile of hardcover books that I had drawn “S’s” on…

Book S 1

we put a couple of nails through the books to hold them together while sawing and then headed for the saw…

Book S 2

before starting he gave me a look and a shake of his head. Translation: You’re crazy. I said, “You always give me that look and it always ends up turning out, so just show me how to saw it.” He did the first one and because he’s a perfectionist he sanded it down all nice and smooth…

Book S 3

I did the next one and immediately broke the blade on his scroll saw. I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the scroll saw. Once the blade was replaced we finished the next one…

Book S 4

see… they always turn out. I had eight more books to go when the old folks had to leave for a graduation party. “That’s fine.” I said, “I’ll just keep sawing.” “No.” my mother said, “I don’t want you here sawing when no one is around.” “Oh my gosh, what am I five-years-old? You let him saw when you’re not around.” “Well, he knows what he’s doing.” “True, true,” I said, “But he’s also cut off parts of several fingers.” “Which is why I don’t want you here sawing alone!!” she said emphatically. Fine, fine, mother knows best I guess. No point in making her worry all day when the old man said he would finish cutting them out.

They were waiting for me in my studio when I got home from work the next evening. All I had to do was cover the edges with Mod Podge. As the big day was getting closer I ended up handing off my second book project to my know-it-all-scared-of-saws mother. I had already made seven or eight book towers and asked her to make 10 more. The book towers are pretty simple, all you have to do is find some old paperbacks, fold the cover in half and then start folding three pages at a time into the spine of the book. It’s mindless work that can be done on your couch in front of the T.V. (not that I’m saying my mother is mindless). She whipped those ten towers out in a day and a half.

Next I whipped up some regular sized cupcake toppers. Stac had really liked the “Little Mermaid” girl I had made for one of our earlier jobs and thought it would be cute if I made a version that looked like Sidney.

Sidney Toppers 1

I did my best. I don’t know if she really looks that much like Sidney, but I thought she was cute.

Sidney Toppers 2

Soon I was summoned to the workshop to give my approval on the shelf Dad was working on for the marquee letters.

Sweets on shelf

Holy crap, the whole thing looked pretty huge. I hoped Stac was going to have enough sweets to fill up all that space underneath. I sent her a picture and she gave it the thumbs up. They picked up the shelf that night so Corey could paint it coral and I took the letters home to paint.

Stac wanted them white but not bright white. I was barely able to cobble together enough cans of spray paint in the same color. I had to hit three different stores before finding a can for each letter plus one to grow on. I then used the bulbs from an extra set of lights and screwed them in to protect the light sockets from spray paint. Thus began my week of giving a letter a night two coats of paint.

Painted W

This was also the beginning of “The Great Paint Debate of 2014”. I had three letters done and in my studio when my Design Assistant stopped by to drop off my “S” books. He asked me that night if I would be sanding them down and putting on another coat of paint. “Nope,” I said, “They’re done.” “You have to sand them in-between paint coats.” he said. “Well, I’ve only got enough paint for two coats per letter. The cash is running low. I am not buying more paint.” For the next few days he kept needling me about sanding the letters. “I don’t have time to sand and paint all the letters and finish up everything else.” was my frustrated response whenever he asked. The morning before I was supposed to set everything up he showed up at my house and said if he could find enough paint he would take the letters home and sand and paint them. Ahhh… I love it when a plan comes together. — Hannibal, The A-Team. I mean come on people… he’s retired, what else does he have to do all day? I happened to hit Wal-Mart on my way to work and they had enough cans of my paint color if I went with Satin instead of Gloss. I called the old man and he said that would work. So he won also, I bought eight more cans of paint. He sent his courier (that would be mom) to pick up the paint so he could get to work.

He finished painting the last letter the morning of set-up. I met Corey at #hashtag (the location of the party) and started screwing lightbulbs into the letters. Big surprise, I was one bulb short. I have no idea how that happened since there were 10 bulbs on each string when the old man unscrewed them. Luckily I had bought some replacement bulbs for another project and they were the same size. I helped Corey set the letters up on the shelf and then headed to work. By the time I got to work this picture was on my phone…

Sweets lit up

along with the caption… “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn’t the same.” that spare bulb was way brighter and a different color than the rest. It stuck out like a sore thumb. Luckily Sidney realized she had one of my paper marquee letters in her room from the prom and it had several light bulbs to pick from. Clever right? She is a high school graduate you know.

That evening my design assistants came over and helped me load up all of my centerpiece paraphernalia and drive it the two blocks to party headquarters. Soon the centerpieces were assembled and ended up looking like this…

Centerpiece 1

Centerpiece 2

Centerpiece 3

Centerpiece 4

Centerpiece 5

Centerpiece 6

and finally this…

Centerpiece 7

my work was complete all that was left to do was celebrate Sidney.

What was I saying. My work wasn’t complete. I didn’t have a gift for Sidney. Luckily inspiration had hit a few days earlier. I’d been fiddling around with painting a saying on a globe for quite some time and a graduation gift seemed to be the perfect opportunity. All I had to do was decide on which globe to sacrifice and then get to work. So on party day I spent my afternoon painting “The world is your oyster” on a globe…


no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get a picture of the complete saying, the world is round you know. Sidney being an artist herself, I figured she would appreciate a hand-made gift.

Soon it was time to celebrate, and what a celebration it was. Because Stac thinks of everything she had not one, but two professional photographers on hand to capture the fun. One was the daughter of her co-worker that took some amazing shots of Stacy’s Dessert Bar. The other was a friend they had met while Sidney was walking the runways at Omaha Fashion Week. He got some great photos of family and friends. I apologize for not knowing who took what of the following photos but they are all pretty amazing, so without further ado… The Sweets Dessert Bar…

Treats 1

Treats 2

Treats 3

cake pops are a specialty of Stacy’s…

Treats 4

Treats 5

so are the personalized cookies…

Treats 6

some big, beautiful berries…

Treats 7

Party 2

that would be little sis Camryn with her arms crossed…

Treats 8

Treats 9

I love these. I never got to try them but they look so cool…

Treats 10

Treats 11

Party 1

Treats 12

Treats 14

the old man’s favorite and worth all the hours spent on the marquee letters…

Treats 15

mom’s favorite. They had little tiny lemon wedges on top, the others were carrot cake…

Treats 16

Party 3

Treats 18

I can hear all those stomachs rumbling even as I type.

Sidney 2

Congratulations Sidney! The world really is your oyster!

6 Responses to “Sinee”

  1. Josie Awtry Says:

    It is by far the little touches that you do to give everything a POP!!! Zing!!! You have a lot of talent Kerri P. And using your God given talent. Can’t wait to do some frames and names, for the kids for Christmas. Did you know you made me cry. Loved it.
    Do you mind if I post your website on my wall on facebook?

  2. kerri Says:

    Of course you can share Josie. Thanks for the wonderful compliments. I hate to make people cry but if they are tears of joy I’ll take it. I’ll be looking forward to your Christmas order.

  3. LaDonna (Friesen) Miller Says:

    Oh My Goodness!!!!! Kerri, do you realize how great and amazing you are!!!!!??????
    I first learned of your extraordinary talent at the MCC Sale. I was sitting next to Bennett,
    my nephew, when your items came up for sale. Immediately, I asked who did those!!!!??
    He informed me that you did and that you had a blog.

    Your creations are incredible and you are a treasure beyond words!!

    Reading your blog is a joy. Especially now, since I now know ‘your design assistant’. LOL!!
    It’s so fun knowing who these people are, seeing Bethesda and heck, we are almost cousins.
    Well, we share cousins at least. LOL

    Tell your Mom and Dad hi and keep up the awesome work that you are doing. Just take it
    from this former interior designer that your creations are truly priceless!!

  4. kerri Says:

    You just made my day LaDonna! Thank you for the kind words. I’ll let my Design Assistants know you said Hi!

  5. ang Says:

    ADORABLE!!! Now remember, Clay and Camryn graduate in 2 years!!!

  6. Stacy Says:

    This was such an awesome night! I still love going thru all the pictures of it. Call me crazy but I can’t wait to do this all over again in 2 years! I already have # reserved!

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